is generally defined as a brief episode of chest pain caused by an
insufficient supply of blood, and therefore oxygen, to the heart.
This lack of blood is known as ischemia, and is usually caused by
coronary artery disease.
many people, angina occurs with exertion (especially after meals) or
other stressful situations, as the heart and other tissues demand
more oxygen under these circumstances. In older people, angina can show up as shortness of breath rather than pain.
In some cases, ischemia can occur without obvious symptoms and will only
be detected with heart monitoring equipment.
are two main types of angina. Stable angina is pain that is
predictable (for example, if it occurs every time you climb a
long, steep flight of stairs). If someone has angina even when
they’re resting, or if their chest pain becomes more frequent or
severe, they are said to have unstable angina. People with unstable
angina usually must be hospitalized until their condition improves
because they are considered at risk for a heart attack. They will be
given drugs or other treatment to minimize this risk.
you have angina, you may recognize what triggers your symptoms, and
can attempt to avoid these situations. However, medical treatment is
also needed. There are two goals:
alleviate angina, a physician will generally recommend
that you carry nitroglycerin tablets or spray.
may also be prescribed drugs known as beta-blockers or calcium
channel blockers, which lower the blood pressure, help reduce the
heart’s need for oxygen, and prevent constriction of blood
vessels. You may also have to wear a nitroglycerin patch to keep
your blood vessels open.
reduce coronary artery disease and the likelihood of angina,
lifestyle changes will also be recommended, especially the
elimination of smoking. You may also need to take other
medications that are designed to reduce atherosclerosis and blood clotting.
all these measures are not effective, your doctor could recommend a
surgical procedure, such as angioplasty or bypass grafting, to treat
the cause of your angina.